Home Healthy Liz’s Bistro Salad Recipe – Pinch of Yum

Liz’s Bistro Salad Recipe – Pinch of Yum

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Crunchy, light, bright, and ultra-fresh. This French-inspired bistro salad is an absolute star as a side for nearly any dinner. Tender greens, fresh herbs, pickled onions, and a delicate vinaigrette on top.

This salad!

WOW. I am fully in love with this salad.

My friend Liz (of Liz’s Roasted Broccoli Salad fame) brought this salad to our dinner club a few weeks ago. We had a French-ish theme – charcuterie, French onion soup, beef bourguignon, creamy potatoes, homemade bread, and creme brûlée. LOL. And then there was Liz’s salad. It was like a little beacon of brightness in a sea of cream, butter, and cheese. I would (and have) eat this as a salad on its own, but the contrast of this with, say, a beef stew, or a really cheesy panini, or a big bowl of luscious mushroom soup – that’s where this salad shines.

In This Post: Everything You Need For This Bistro Salad

It’s a study in simplicity. The entire salad is greens, herbs, pickled onions, and vinaigrette. That’s it. It’s like a love song to everything green.

But here’s why I really love it:

It is an A+ balance of crunchy and light and delicate – the herbs are ultra-fresh but not bossy, the pickled onions are there but not in your face, and the combination of finely chopped romaine (cronchy) with gently torn butter lettuce (tender) with the lightest, brightest vinaigrette slicked into to every nook and cranny is absolute salad perfection.


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Crunchy, light, bright, and ultra-fresh. This French-inspired bistro salad is an absolute star as a side for nearly any dinner. Tender greens, fresh herbs, pickled onions, and a delicate vinaigrette on top. 

Pickled Onions

Bistro Salad


  1. Pickled Onions: Place the onions in a jar; fill the jar about a third of the way with vinegar, then fill to the top of the onions with water. Add salt and sugar, shake, and keep in the fridge for a few hours or a few days. (I’d suggest 30 minutes minimum if you’re short on time.)
  2. Vinaigrette: Shake all dressing ingredients in a jar. It should be pleasantly bright and mellow – remember we’ll be adding a bunch of onions and herbs to the salad, so it’s okay for this dressing to be pretty chill. Keep this in the fridge if making ahead.
  3. Salad: Prep all your salad greens – chop the romaine and the herbs, and gently tear the lettuce leaves into bite sized pieces.
  4. Toss: Just before serving, toss greens, herbs, pickled onions, and dressing together – starting with about half of the dressing that’s in the jar, and adding more as necessary.
  5. Serve: Taste and adjust; add salt and pepper to taste. It’s tender, bright, a little puckery, and so fresh. I love it.


To make ahead: prep the onions and the dressing. Chop the greens. Store everything separately in the fridge, and assemble the amount you need just before serving! This works really well as a make-ahead side salad for dinners throughout the whole week. I would double the dressing and then just buy a bunch of greens and throw my 2-4 person salads together every night throughout the week.

If you want to scale this up, you should have enough dressing for a 6-8 serving salad; just add another romaine heart and use a full head of butter lettuce instead of half.

You can use another oil if you want, but I like canola for the neutral flavor – it keeps the dressing very mild.

  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Chop
  • Cuisine: French-Inspired

Keywords: bistro salad, french salad, side salad

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Other Things To Know About This Bistro Salad

Salad with lettuce, fresh herbs, and pickled onions in a bowl.

What Makes This a Bistro Salad?

To my knowledge, this is generally what I understand to be a French Bistro Salad – or a simple green salad that is served in cafes and bistros around France. Liz brought this as the salad for our French dinner club night! And none of us are French, so we’re just doing our best out here to learn and borrow some French sophistication which is why I’m not necessarily going to call this a “French Bistro Salad” in case we are way off the mark.

In general, I just like to think of this as a lightly dressed pile of greens that mentally takes you to a much fancier place (BISTRO LIFE!) and complements almost any dish on any plate. If you have more context on French Bistro Salads in general, feel free to pop your thoughts into the comments. 🙂

What Else Could You Add To This Salad?

If you’re feeling extra, a couple ideas that seem really solid:

  • toasted nuts like walnuts
  • goat cheese crumbles
  • shaved Parmesan cheese
  • golden crispies (really, just an excuse to make a big batch of these)
  • thinly shaved vegetables or fruits – squash, cucumber, apples

Do You Have To Use Canola Oil?

No, you don’t. The reason it’s used here is because it’s a neutral-flavored oil. But I will say, I have made this with olive oil and it’s delicious. My understanding is that part of the key to a French bistro salad is a very light dressing that doesn’t overpower the greens, and of the two versions I made, I definitely preferred the canola oil dressing – the olive oil comes on a bit strong. But personally, I’m not too precious of a cook so I say any kind of oil (where you like the flavor of the oil) could work! Just remember that everything here is pretty delicate (the chives, the lettuce, the dill, etc.) so you don’t want any one thing to really take over the salad.

How Long Does This Keep?

Not long, especially after you mix it. Those leaves start to get soggy pretty quickly, so I would recommend tossing the salad up within 5-15 minutes of serving. The elements will all keep individually for several days in the fridge, so keep them separate in the fridge and you’ll be good to go!

How Great Is Liz?

VERY GREAT! She is my salad-famous friend, the one we always go to for ideas on making vegetables great. Thanks, Liz! ♡

Liz’s Bistro Salad: Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use any salad greens here?

Tender greens, like butter lettuce and romaine, really work best here so that the salad doesn’t get overpowered in flavor from something like spinach or arugula.

How long will the pickled onions last?

Store them for 3-5 days in a sealed jar in the fridge!

Can this salad be meal prepped?

Sure! The elements will all keep individually for several days in the fridge, so keep them separate in the fridge, mix things together right before enjoying, and you’ll be good to go!

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